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The Opener: Hendricks, Braves, Jansen


As the 2023 regular season continues, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

1. Hendricks slated to return:

After nearly a year away from the major league mound rehabbing from shoulder surgery, Cubs veteran Kyle Hendricks is slated to be activated from the injured list to start tonight’s game against the Mets. A key cog in the rotation during the Cubs’ last competitive window, Hendricks was among the most reliable starters in the game from 2016-2020 as he posted a 3.00 ERA (143 ERA+) and 3.40 FIP. Since the start of the 2021 season, however, Hendricks has managed just 265 1/3 innings of work with severely diminished results. His 4.78 ERA over the past two campaigns is 13% below league average, a far cry the performances that saw him garner Cy Young votes in 2016 and 2020.

The Cubs are surely hoping the last remaining member of the 2016 World Series team will be able to return to form and help solidify a rotation that features a great deal of uncertainty behind Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, and Drew Smyly. Offseason acquisition Jameson Taillon has struggled to an 8.10 ERA with a 4.93 FIP in 26 2/3 innings, while youngster Hayden Wesneski was recently demoted to Triple-A after posting a 5.03 ERA and 5.92 FIP in eight major league starts. A corresponding move will be required to make room for Hendricks on the active roster before this evening’s game, which will begin at 6:40pm CT.

2. Braves to recall Dodd:

After losing a pair of quality rotation arms in Max Fried and Kyle Wright to long-term injuries, the Braves are set to call up left-hander Dylan Dodd to start tonight’s game against the Phillies. Dodd made his MLB debut earlier this season and has posted a 6.46 ERA in three major league starts with a 5.69 FIP. Dodd has also struggled in Triple-A this season, with a 6.67 ERA in 27 innings of work. Despite those concerning numbers, Dodd and the Braves will hope for a rebound this evening. A corresponding move will be required to make room for Dodd on the active roster.

Should the young lefty continue to struggle, further rotation reinforcements could be just around the corner, as right-hander Michael Soroka continues working his way back to a major league mound for the first time since the 2020 campaign. Of course, Dodd could also follow in the footsteps of young lefty Jared Shuster, who also struggled in his initial call to the big leagues but has posted smoother results in two starts since returning to the Majors earlier this month.

3. Jansen exits with groin issue:

Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen exited yesterday’s game with what the club termed left groin tightness. The injury’s severity is currently unclear, but’s Keegan Matheson noted that Tyler Heineman, the only extra catcher on Toronto’s 40-man roster, was removed from a minor league game last night following Jansen’s injury.

In 36 games this season, Jansen has slashed just .207/.273/.413 (86 wRC+), but that includes a dismal 1-for-25 slump to begin the season. Since breaking out of that funk, he’s posted a heartier .250/.314/.510 slash in 105 plate appearances, which lines up reasonably well with last year’s .260/.339/.516 performance. Should Jansen miss time, that would likely mean a return to full-time duties behind the plate for Alejandro Kirk, who has slashed .230/.348/.319 (93 wRC+) in 38 games this season.

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